Monday, February 13, 2012

And, we're off!

We're going to be embarking on a family vacation soon and I'm super excited. Now, let's be honest, this vacation is to New Jersey for a family wedding. (And, not just any wedding, an Italian wedding!) However, this post is not about the wedding (although the next one might be), it's about the art of vacationing with one's spouse. We haven't actually vacationed much since we've had children. This year is the big kickoff for this particular parenting right-of-passage. As we've brainstormed for potential vacation spots, we've been calling upon our own childhood experiences in this realm and once again, we've run into an area of great disagreement.

Me and the Beher fam at a Florida bird
and wildlife preserve.
Before I married Joe I had never really spent longer than one day per vacation on a beach. Our family vacations, like many, fell into two categories: Weekend getaways and Full-Out Vacation. Weekend getaways were spent at various Holiday Inns, swimming in the pool, dinners at restaurants with a wait-staff and watching movies in a hotel room while washing down an obscene amount of Easy Cheeze with Cherry Coke. There was the obligatory visit to whatever local tourist attraction was available (ie, Elkhart County Motor Home Museum, Abe Lincoln's birthplace, Annie Oakley's birthplace, George Rogers Clark's birthplace - all as boring to a child as they sound). As the daughter of a farmer, we went on getaways only if it rained.  That is not a typo. If the weather was nice, we stayed home and waited until we had a nice rainstorm, or better yet, a tornado warning so that we wouldn't waste any time that could be spent farming in some form.

Full-Out vacations were similar accept that this time, we usually got our very own bag of goodies to entertain us in the car (Mad Libs, activity books, new crayons, gum and lollipops for sticking in each other's hair, etc.) which did nothing to curb the number of fights between me and my brothers.  My family of five had a Renault Alliance.  Remember those...probably not.  They were only sold in the US for a year or two.  (My favorite argument was who got to lay out on the back seat, who slept in the back window and who had to curl up on the floor with that big hump right in the middle.)  We saw more museums, stopped at every 'Scenic Overlook' and of course, walked through many, many more birthplaces of well-known and unknown historical figures.

So, as you can tell, my family vacations were not relaxing. They were educational, they were memorable, but they were not relaxing. 

Vacations for my husband were different. They actually were what you would imagine when you thought of vacation. An entire week, on a beach (usually Fort Meyers) playing frisbee tag and beach volleyball with strangers, laying in the sun, body surfing and enjoying all forms of seafood. Now, these vacations were also reached by automobile. However, his family traveled in a pimped out conversion van complete with a tv for video games and movies as well as an occassional dose of dramamine so that "your tummy doesn't hurt" (i.e. maybe you'll actually fall asleep). My father-in-law, a road salesman with a heavy foot, is proud that he could complete the 15 hour drive in approximately 12 hours because you got to pee or get something to eat only when the gas tank was on empty.

Me and Fam on a Rizzuto beach vacation...
complete with loud Italian father-in-law.
Once the beach destination was reached, sleep became a luxury. At 5am, my husband was awakened by a loud Italian man shouting, "GET UP! I BROUGHT YOU TO THE BEACH! IF YOU WANT TO SLEEP, YOU CAN SLEEP ON THE BEACH! IF THE SUN IS UP THEN YOU ARE TOO! GET OUT!" And, if you didn't react quickly enough, you were met with a cup full of water to the face. Rizzuto vacations quite often involved blood, food poisoning and shenanigans that are still legend in Fort Meyers emergency rooms (i.e. "Sir, is that a catfish stuck to your palm?!)

So, as you can see, my husband and I innately have VERY different interpretations of what constitutes a 'vacation.' However, regardless of these differences, they all evoke fond memories for the participant and 'reality-TV/trainwreck-like' fascination for the other. And, in retrospect, I believe the fun is in the madness.  If you read the above paragraphs, the memories were not made at the museums OR the beaches. They memories come from the chaos.  So, my hope for our future vacations is that we can provide enough mayhem to be memorable but with minimal out-of-network hospital visits.

(PS-To my knowledge no Rizzuto ever actually wet themselves or was malnourished on a car trip.)